McCoy is Pipe's stand-in after Bridgwater resigns

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The Independent Online
Tony McCoy is likely to be the immediate beneficiary of David Bridgwater's decision to resign as first jockey to Martin Pipe. McCoy, the champion National Hunt jockey, will be asked to ride Pipe's runners at Exeter and Taunton this week.

The Ulsterman auditioned for the role of stable jockey at Nicholashayne a year ago when the job went to Bridgwater and a permanent position with the stable may again come into consideration now that Bridgwater has vacated the post after just over one season.

The jockey's decision came as a "total surprise" to the champion trainer, who learned of the resignation on Sunday just hours before Bridgwater issued a statement announcing the split.

"He phoned me at 5.45 last night and that was the first I'd heard of it," Pipe said yesterday.

Although Pipe is now without a stable jockey -his No2, Jonothan Lower, recently retired due to diabetes -the trainer has no plans to name a replacement and will use the best jockeys available in coming weeks. "There's no rush to get anyone else as most of my better horses won't run until we get softer ground. If the likes of Tony McCoy are available for Exeter and Taunton this week then we'll use them."

Bridgwater's decision to ride as a freelance mirrors that of his predecessor at Nicholashayne, Richard Dunwoody. Widely described as the best job in jump racing, the role was unable to provide enough winners for Bridgwater to overtake McCoy in the title race. One of Pipe's main owners, Darren Mercer, recently removed his horses from the stable, including Gold Cup hope Banjo, and this may have influenced Bridgwater's decision. At the same time, the powerful Lambourn stable of Kim Bailey, without a retained rider after the departure of Norman Williamson, could prove a source of rides.